Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti on Sunday said that as a minister she had been against having any power project on the Ganga and its major tributaries due to the sensitive nature of the Himalayas.
Bharti was the minister of water resources, river development, and Ganga rejuvenation during the first term of the Narendra Modi government.
In a series of tweets in Hindi, Bharti said the Uttarakhand flood tragedy triggered by a glacier burst is a matter of concern as well as a warning. She said the glacier breaking off had damaged a power project, triggering the massive crisis.
This tragedy that has happened in Rishi Ganga in the Himalayas is a matter of concern as well as a warning, she said.
"When I was a minister, my ministry, in its affidavit on the dams in Uttarakhand in the Himalayas, had requested that it being a very sensitive region, power projects not be built on the Ganga and its main tributaries," she said.
She added that the electricity shortfall caused by that decision could have been met by the national grid.
A portion of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on Sunday, triggering an avalanche and a deluge in the Alaknanda river that washed away hydroelectric stations.
Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said while quoting the project incharge. Three bodies were recovered.
The sudden flood in the middle of the day in the Dhauli Ganga, Rishi Ganga, and Alaknanda rivers—all intricately linked tributaries of the Ganga—triggered widespread panic and large-scale devastation in the high mountain areas.
Two power projects—NTPC's Tapovan-Vishnugad Hydel Project and the Rishi Ganga Hydel Project—were extensively damaged with scores of labourers trapped in tunnels as the waters came rushing in.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said seven bodies were recovered and at least 125 were missing. Homes along the way were also swept away as the waters rushed down the mountainsides in a raging torrent. There were fears of damage in human settlements downstream, including in heavily populated areas. Many villages were evacuated and the people taken to safer areas.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said four NDRF teams (about 200 personnel) were airlifted to Dehradun and would head to Joshimath. One column of the Engineering Task Force of the army, with all rescue equipment, has been deployed as well.
(With inputs from PTI)